Why I’m not celebrating the 4th of July as an American

Today marks 243 years since the creation of the U.S. Declaration of Independence, formally stating that the 13 American colonies at the time were no longer a part of Great Britain. This independence from Great Britain in 1776 was monumental in terms of setting precedence for state-building and the formation of independent governments, however it cannot be denied that the 4th of July remains deeply rooted in systematic racism and genocide.

The history of the U.S., despite its (surface-level) achievements in societal equality, representation in government, and freedom of speech, was built on the genocide of Native Americans and the slavery and deaths of Black Africans. This will always be a part of American history, and to paint the U.S. as anything other than this is ignoring the truth of how this country was built.

This brutal history, often ignored and changed to fit the narrative of the U.S. being “the land of the free”, should have warned us about how easy it can be for the U.S. to commit the same very crimes today.

The migrant concentration camps along the U.S. border have become one of the most appalling and atrocious acts of human rights abuses happening in modern U.S. history. Migrants coming to the U.S., who have the full legal right to apply for asylum, are being denied basic human rights in these camps.

Children and parents are being separated at the border, migrants are being held without food or water in cramped conditions, there have been reports of psychological and even sexual abuse, and border patrol agents are apparently telling migrants to drink water out of the toilets.

Seven children have so far died in these concentration camps. The numbers in these camps are not declining. How in any consciousness can we as a collective society celebrate our country’s history when not only have we not learned from our dark history, but are allowing history to repeat itself? How can we celebrate when our country is actively dehumanizing and even killing migrants in concentration camps?

The U.S. is actively oppressing these migrants at our borders, and celebrating the 4th of July is actively choosing to ignore the abuse happening at our borders and choosing to be on the side of the oppressors.

While no country is clean of any dark history or abuse, the U.S. is particularly at fault because of its international power. With so much power in the UN and internationally, the U.S. has a responsibility to help harbour international peace and security. While it is possible for nations with historic damage to reconcile and rebuild, the U.S. shows no remorse as it continues to abuse its power on innocents. This in particular, is why the U.S. is so at fault. And this is one of the main reasons why I cannot, as an American, as a Muslim, but more importantly as a human being, celebrate a country so steeped and active in committing human rights abuses.

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